Assisting His Assistant

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Chapter 42

CHAPTER 42

Eric


Funerals.

I fucking hated it.

But who would take to them anyway?

I sighed, rubbing my face hard. I looked in the review mirror. My eyes burned from withheld tears. It ached from tiredness. I stretched out my tight shirt collar, allowing me room to fucking breathe.

Today I had just laid my father to rest. And it was by far the most difficult thing I had to do.

I was the last one to leave the cemetery. I wanted to say my final goodbyes to my old man, even though there were so much left unsaid. The eulogy stuck in my mind, my father the ever-accomplished man. He did so much during his time. My uncle retelling his life like an adventure story. Half the things I didn’t even know he did. He wasn’t a perfect husband or father, but I wasn’t a perfect man either.

I stared up to the roof of my car, knowing he was fearless and wasn’t afraid of anybody. My father wasn’t a religious man, but I hoped he had the fear of God in him instead. I let out a shaky breath. The only time I allowed the tears to flow. Away from prying eyes.

I dropped my head back on the leather seat of my Mercedes-Benz, and side glanced my family home. The huge country-style mansion with the smoky grey roof tiles cascaded with balconies and windows, the cloudy sky reflected on it, it hiked three stories’ up. I was back in the upper suburbs of Chicago. The house that raised me. The place I wanted to escape from as soon as I turned eighteen years old. I didn’t know how to feel being back, and under such circumstances. How would it feel now without my father looming in?

I didn’t think about it. I just wanted to show the respect after the funeral visit, and get it fucking done.

I climbed out my vehicle confidently, making sure I looked steady and presentable, but underneath there were torrents of emotions and not just about my father. From the number of cars parked out in the long-bricked driveway. It looked like the house was brimmed with guests.

I walked up the grass embellished paving, beside the trimmed greenery that held my mother’s herb garden in the courtyard, that she was so proud about. I shot a glance at it. The basil and parsley peeked through. I could smell it from here, as the breeze softly carried it.

I smiled softly, the smell that always reminded me of home. Herbs. The smell of my mother. It always comforted me.

Another scent did the trick too.

But the smile quickly vanished from my face. I grimaced as I entered the front wooden doors. A strangeness overcame me suddenly. The fact that coming to this house was never going to be the same again. The place that held such tension, that I blamed on my father. I didn’t know would it ease or make me fall further into guilt?

My black shoes walked smoothly on the French wooden oak floors that turned into marble tiles as I entered the reception room.

Men and women in black suits scattered the elegant living room, that was decorated with flowers from the funeral. The floral aroma making me nauseous. The same faces that were at the funeral stood here. Most of them close to my father’s age group. They were business colleagues, shareholders of Bolt Investments and some golfing buddies of my dad. Each one coming up and shaking my fucking hand.

I scanned the adorned room in search of my mother. To check if she was doing alright. I looked left and spotted Jesse talking to one of the company’s shareholders, engrossed in tight conversation. My eyes trailed further left and saw mom seated at the long glass dining table, sipping on tea. She looked blankly ahead, her mind seemed to be somewhere else and not with her friends that surrounded her, including Rebecca, who glanced my direction and smiled.

I returned a weak one and looked away. I placed both hands in my trousers and looked at all the people my father knew fraternize, some talking and laughed at jokes, while others drank my mother’s teas and coffees that were neatly placed against the wall.

I couldn’t help but scowl.

“Hey Eric.” I turned around slowly at the tap on my back. Frank Bennet walked up to me and extended his hand.

My lips went tight. “Frank,” I said and shook another fucking hand.

“My sympathies for you and your family. Your father was a good man and even rougher businessman.” He croaked with a light chuckle.

I didn’t smile and withdrew my hand. “Thank you. My father would have appreciated you being here.” I said, feeling like a fucking robot on repeat. The whole day I flew past on autopilot when it came to pleasantries.

He walked away, his eyes targeting my brother. Thank fuck!

I moved across the floor and saw another elderly woman approach me from a distance. Her wrinkled eyes set on me. Damn, I didn’t need this. Foreseeing the mundane chat. I needed to leave. To fucking escape. The space confined with people I didn’t care to talk to or discuss my sad plight. I slipped to the one place to shut it all out.

My legs automatically jogged up the lengthy steps to the story above. I trudged past the walls lined with Picasso paintings and family fishing portraits and entered one in five generous bedrooms that I called my own for eighteen years. The familiar space I loved so much.

It felt like I had stepped back in time, the moment I passed the threshold. The different shades of blue shrouded the room. The dark blue curtains matched the bed covers, neatly settled with red pillows, against a dark wooden panel. A black cage hung above the lavender painted walls, where all by football, baseball and soccer balls filled. I glanced to the right side; the rack still plastered to the wall that hung two of my baseball bats. The shelf above it lined with sport caps. I smirked at the recollection, I was a sporty fucker with a sly and charming streak.

But funny enough I hadn’t brought one girl home to my room. I always ended up in theirs or in my Jeep at the time.

The smell wasn’t the same though. My cologne and sweaty socks were replaced with pine that lined the furniture. Mom really kept everything the same, I sighed and sauntered up to the window, looking at the landscaped garden beneath.

It was quiet here. Silence made me think. I rubbed my eyes, as my shoulders slumped. Tired. I was so tired. The last few days drained me. The only sleep I got was that night. With Harper. After that it was difficult to sleep again.

Thinking of Harper, I thought of her message. She was right we had to talk. I just wasn’t sure about what. There was too much on my mind and I couldn’t think about that right now. I’ll talk to her when I’m ready. It was probably unfair, but maybe there were things I didn’t want to face. It was easy to bury it all down. Like the casket in the grave. I didn’t like change. And it was happening to suddenly, all at once. It was best we had space.

For now.

I blew out a hard breath. Silly enough, I wanted her warm and reassuring presence beside me. She was okay to be alone with.

My door softly opened, and I turned to see who had entered. Annoyed as fuck my privacy and thoughts was interrupted.

Rebecca slipped in the room and silently closed the door behind her. Her strawberry blonde hair drifted over her shoulders against her tight black dress that stopped at the knees.

She walked up slowly to me; her arms crossed against her chest as she took in my bedroom. “I like your style. Sporty guy.” She lightly chuckle, checking out my football shirt that hung in a glass case. “Rough day, you made it through the worst part.” She smiled weakly. “How you’re keeping up?”

I sighed and returned my gaze out the window. Overlooking the setting sun. Time escaped me and I hadn’t even realized the day was drawing to a close.

“Yeah, well it’s done now.” I swallowed. “Time to look forward... to the future.”

She nodded and stood next to me. “I’m glad you think so. And talking about the future, you going to be CEO of Bolt Investment now. It’s going to be a huge change?”

“Yeah, I guess.” My eyes trailed up the darkening sky. It shaded... violet.

“You’ll be better than your father at the job, you’ll take the company to new heights. Change is good.” She said. Her hand touched my shoulder and I blinked away from my shaded sky. “The future can be bright.”

Rebecca held her breath, “...with me by your side.” She whispered placing her cheek against my shoulder, her fingers lifted and touched the edges of my hair. She was probably trying to console me, but it wasn’t effective.

I raised a brow. “I told you, I don’t do well with changes.” I huffed.

She sighed and withdrew her hand. “Something feels off with you, with us?” She questioned. “It’s been like this for the last couple of weeks Eric.”

I shrugged, shaking it off.

“Does this have anything to do with your assistant?”

I turned to her, shocked at her unexpected question. “No.” I plainly answered and looked away.

She chewed her lip and placed her hands on her hips. “There’s no time to play Eric. Life is short and you have responsibilities now. It’s time you should settle down.” She said. “You can’t go on like this for much longer.”

My gaze returned to the sky, and I breathed out. “Sure, Rebecca. Of course, I’ll think about it.” I said and gave her a side smile. “Thanks for attending my father’s funeral.”

She smiled and touched my shoulder. “Do you want me to stay?”

My left eye twitched. The same question asked, but by Rebecca now. “No. It’s okay. I think it’s best I’m here alone.” I cleared my throat. For the life of me I couldn’t open up to her.

“Okay, see you later Eric.” She said and left the bedroom.

I was left alone, with my conflicted thoughts.

My father.

My family.

My company.

My assistant.

I never been more unsure in my life, and I fucking hated it.

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